It seems that we are constantly defending ourselves against suspicious phone calls. Some may be lottery sweepstakes calls that seem too good to be true, or a call that plays on our fears. Now, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning people about a fraudulent company that's targeting people in Michigan and several other states.
The BBB says the company calls itself "United Fraud Protection Group" or "United Fraud Prevention." The agency said the company calls people at home and tells them they have an outstanding debt. If they want the order to be lifted, the company tells you to pay a certain amount of money over the phone.
One local woman received that call, and she said the man on the other end of the line became threatening. "When I asked him why did he need my whole social security number, that is when he really started with the threats and talking real nasty," she said. This local victim didn't want to share her identity, but she thought it was important to share her story.
"I think it’s very important because these people are getting away with this on a regular basis," said the woman. Luckily, this woman followed her gut when she felt something was wrong. When she looked into the matter further, she found a warning from the BBB from May which affirmed her fears. "Don't be real quick to give up any money because someone calls you threatening you with civil action."
The BBB issued the warning after doing it's own research on the company. The company listed an address of 615 Griswold, Suite 726, in the Ford Building, but the BBB found this to be a dead end. "We talked to the property manager. There has never been a company to that name, never been a tenant there," Said Melanie Duquesnel, the CEO of BBB.
Duquesnel said that these calls have all the classic signs of a phishing expedition. "It is all an attempt to essentially take your identity, replicate it, and use it for their own good, and to your disadvantage," she said. Red flags for this kind of scam include looking for personal information, such as credit card, social security or drivers license numbers.
Many Metro-Detroiters say they're already on the lookout for scams like these. "It is really unfortunate that they would take advantage of senior citizens or somebody that is on social security," said Damion Wiles of Midtown.
Duquesnel and the BBB have a few tips if you think you have been called by a scammer. First, never give any personal information to anyone who calls you out of the blue. If you're told there's a crisis, it’s unlikely its real. If you are worried about what the caller is saying, ask them to give you information about the company that you can look into, and double check what they've told you.
"It is the quickest way to disarm this kind of fraud because 99 percent of the time, they do not want you to call them back," said Duquesnel.In addition, contact the business that holds the account in question, and check if you have debt there at all. If you do, verify what company handles their collections.
However, if you think you have been a victim of a scam, Duquesnel suggests quick action. "Call the police immediately. They'll get the ball rolling, they know what to ask in your regard, in terms of credit cards. They'll advise you appropriately," she said.